Kent Community Rail partnership was founded in 2023, when we began our work with the communities along the Swale Rail Line.
On Thursday 14th September we invited our members and friends, both past and present, to join us at Masters House, Sheerness to celebrate our first 20 years.
The day started with a train trip along our Swale Rail Line, where the partnership began. Along the way Jonathan Fryer kindly shared his detailed knowledge of local history, from the industrial heritage of the paper mills, through wartime munitions ships to the closure of the Sheppey steelworks. We learned of Royal Trains, floods and ferries and of course the work carried out by our partnership at each of the stations.
Craig Rowley posted details to Southeastern’s Twitter feed, sharing the success and importance of Kent CRP with over 250,000 followers.
After disembarking from our train, Jonathan led a history tour through the High Street, pausing to reflect upon the 300 year history of the Royal Dockyard and its defences before continuing to the refurbished clock tower that was built to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in 1902.
The Mayor of Swale, Councillor Sarah Stephen welcomed us to our celebration with a speech detailing many of the projects we have been involved with across the Borough, including the Faversham Festival of Transport, murals at stations, school travel training trips and a multitude of projects providing learning opportunities to students from Sheppey College.
This was followed by presentations from our current Chair, Chris Fribbins, past Chairs Mike Fitzgerald and John Wright and Matt Fraser, Southeastern Community Relations Manager. Each explained how they had seen the partnership grow over the years, delivering improvements to station environments and opportunities for our communities through collaborative working.
The dedication of our volunteers was at the heart of all the speeches and the day was a fabulous opportunity to celebrate two decades of their efforts. Thanks to our volunteers we have delivered a flourishing partnership that delivers for its communities and helps Community Rail to grow.
After lunch we took the positive energy in the room and used it to begin making plans for the future.
Finally we rounded off the day with a further stroll to take in some sea air before returning to the station for our onward journeys.
A most enjoyable day, here’s to the next 20 years!
We would like to share some of the wonderful feedback we have received about the day.
“I would like to say a big thank you for being allowed to be part of your so successful 20th Anniversary Event.
It was good to meet up with ‘old’ friends and be reminded of how successful and valued the Partnership has been and how it is till flourishing and going forward meeting the needs of the wider communities and delivering for Community Rail.
I wish you every success with your upcoming plans and look forward to seeing you again.” – Mike FitzGerald, former Chair of Kent CRP.
“Congratulations to both of you and to all of the team involved today for a lovely event! From start to finish I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and (as usual) came away with some new ideas!” – Chris Sutton, Treasurer of Otford Society
“It was good to see previous and current Partnership Members discussing actioned projects, activities and events and formulating ideas for new ones. The positive energy in the room was impressive. The Partnership has grown from its initial 5 stations to its impressive 31 stations benefitting more and more railway communities. I wonder where the Partnership will be in another 20 years!” – Therese Hammond Project Officer Kent CRP